A Piece of Home

APieceofHOme copy

Image Credit: Candlewick Press, Jeri Watts/Hyewon Yum

Creating a new ordinary.

Not everyone wants to stand out, especially if your family moves to a new country and you suddenly feel different from everyone else. Hee Jun is a self proclaimed “ordinary” Korean boy and his grandmother is a highly respected teacher in Korea…until Hee Jun’s father gets a job in West Virginia and everything changes. Hee Jun’s family goes through a roller coaster of emotions until they find comfort and familiarity in their new lives.

Jeri Watts does a great job of depicting Korean culture and children’s emotions during times of change. This story was inspired by a Korean student who desperately wanted her to understand him and felt out of place in his new home of Virginia. As great as her storytelling is, the book wouldn’t be what it is without Hyewon Yum’s authentic voice coming through in the art. From the first page, I felt like I was back on the side streets surrounding my 초등학교 (elementary school). My school had a 떡볶이 (spicy rice cake) shop across the street just like the high school Hee Jun’s grandmother teaches at. I love how Yum incorporates Korean words and sentences into the illustrations. Her art is evocative and she’s great at characterization and creating story.

APieceofHome2

Image Credit: Candlewick Press, Jeri Watts/Hyewon Yum

I really connected to this book because (as you can probably guess) I used to live in Korea. I graduated from college and almost immediately flew over to start a new life as an English teacher. Similar to Hee Jun, I felt out of control and confused at times. He also reminds me of my students, especially the ones who wanted to get to know me but didn’t have confidence in their ability to communicate with me. I made them feel uncomfortable in their own space, which must’ve been nerve-wracking! The world caters to native English speakers but Native English speaking countries rarely cater to non-native English speakers! >_< Like Hee Jun’s grandmother, immigrants bring richness into the United States that shouldn’t be ignored just because they struggle with English.

The other day I snapped this photo of 무궁화 (Mugungwha/Rose of Sharon) growing near my house. It made me think of my city of 대구 and my friends and students there.
Mugunghwa

I hope you enjoy A Piece of Home as much as I did. I think a lot of children will be able to relate to it!

 

Recommended for: All Ages
Great for: Family, Community, Immigration, Friendship, Korea, Korean Culture, Inner Strength, Difference, School Life, Diversity, Discussion, Language, Confidence
Book Info: A Piece of Home by Jeri Watts/Illustrated by Hyewon Yum, 2016 Candlewick Press, ISBN: 9780763669713

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Mr. Tiger Goes Wild

 

MrTigerGoesWild

Image Credit: Little, Brown and Company (Hachette Book Group), Peter Brown

Ah, this is one of my favorites. ❤

Sometimes you just have to say screw it all and let out your inner tiger. Similar to the book Wild by Emily Hughes, this book explores themes of self discovery and acceptance in face of criticism.

Just look at his face! Look at it! He’s adorable! In Mr. Tiger Goes Wild, Mr. Tiger is in quite a predicament. His posh neighbors are very posh but for some reason he’s not feeling so posh anymore…change is coming for him and he doesn’t even realize it yet. One day, he s…l…o…w…l…y bends down on all fours (GASP!), runs around town like the wild animal he is and before he knows it, he’s NAKED! How unacceptable. His neighbors have had enough and tell him to go to the wild and so he does! But he gets lonely without his friends and when he comes home, it looks like he’s influenced them to be a little wild sometimes too. 😉

Mr.Tiger2

Image Credit: Little, Brown and Company (Hachette Book Group), Peter Brown

I love Peter Brown’s art. Though he uses mostly muted colors in this book (browns, grays, blacks, greens) there’s a vibrancy to his style. He draws blocky bodies, uses simple shapes and creates expressive faces (I LOVE MR. TIGER’S EXPRESSIONS!) with ink, watercolor and gouache. The very first spread stands out; as Mr. Tiger is surrounded by the townsfolk with their gray bodies, closed eyes and haughty expressions, you can’t help but be attracted to his annoyed expression and bright orange skin. My favorite spread is the one where Mr. Tiger slowly…drops…down…to the ground, ready to be wild!

I hope you’ll enjoy this book with your little wild ones. ROOOOAAARRR!

 

Recommended for: All ages
Great for: Community, Criticism, Etiquette, Proper Behavior, Self Actualization, Freedom, Friends, Relationships, Self Discovery, Acceptance, Change, Difference, Discussion
Book Info: Mr. Tiger Goes Wild by Peter Brown, 2013 Little, Brown and Company (Hachette Book Group), ISBN: 9780316200639